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Senator Lankford Introduces Taxpayers Right To Know Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), today introduced The Taxpayers Right To Know Act (S.317) with Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) as original co-sponsors. The bipartisan bill would require the federal government to make public the details, costs, and performance metrics of every federal program above $1 million. Currently, Americans are unable to see all of the programs paid for by their tax dollars. 

“American taxpayers deserve an efficient and effective government that identifies and eliminates wasteful and duplicative spending—the Taxpayers Right To Know Act is a big step towards that goal,” said Lankford. “The Taxpayers Right To Know Act will require the federal government to finally report its spending in a simple way for everyone to see; with more transparency comes efficiency and accountability. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the days ahead to pass this important legislation.”

“Transparency is the first step toward accountability—and it’s a pretty commonsense concept that taxpayers have the right to know where their money is being spent,” said McCaskill, former Missouri State Auditor. “I’ve spent my career rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse, and this bill will be a helpful tool in making sure the government is carefully guarding tax dollars from waste.”

“I’m happy to cosponsor the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act again this Congress,” said Johnson. “This commonsense bill would provide much-needed tools to identify ineffective and duplicative government programs to cut bureaucracy and save taxpayer money.”

Specifically, the bill would create an online database that reports financial data and performance metrics for every federal program above $1 million. The bill will require every federal agency to provide taxpayers an annual report card for all of its programs, and will require agencies to identify the number of employees and beneficiaries served by every federal program.

As a major priority, Lankford has worked on this legislation since 2011, his first year in Congress. During the 112th Congress, Lankford introduced the bill in December 2011 as HR 3609, while former Senator Tom Coburn carried the Senate companion bill (S. 1957) the same year. During the 113th Congress, Lankford introduced the bill in April 2013 as HR 1423 and it passed the House in February 2014, however, the Senate never voted on it. As a Senator, Lankford introduced S. 282 in January 2015 and the House passed a version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg, in January 2016. Despite support from the Obama administration, it never received a vote in the Senate. 

The House passed this bill unanimously in January. The following members also cosponsored the bill: Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Rob Portman (R-OH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Steve Daines (R-MT).

Lankford is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management within the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The management of the federal agencies and its workforce falls under Lankford’s Subcommittee jurisdiction.